Activities » Cultivation and extraction of natural indigo By

Indigo is a natural dye, extracted from Indigofera tinctoria which can be used for dyeing cloths or preparing hair oil. In DST Core Support Program, it was aimed to improve qualitatively and quantitatively the existing technology of dye extraction for income generation among the farmers/land owners. The cultivation of indigo is not labour intensive and the crop doesn’t need much protection. Beneficiaries can cultivate indigo as inter crop or as main crop. The leaves can be harvested three times within a period of 9 months (1 main crop and 2 ratoon crops) and marketed. Seeds of indigo are relatively expensive (Rs.350/kg seed) and a farmer can even market the seeds and earn profit. The cost of 1 kg of indigo dye is Rs.2500/- The yield of fresh leaves per acre is around 3000 kg and the dye yield per acre of fresh biomass is 12 kg. The cultivation practice was given to 3 NGOs and 5 farmers. A farmer at T.Kallupatti, has earned a net income of Rs.24,000/ acre in the first growing season and Rs. 19,700/ ¾ of acres in the second season by selling dry leaves and seeds. This has motivated other farmers around his area to cultivate indigo in their lands and five such farmers have cultivated indigo at present. Technology for extracting dye from leaves was also developed and disseminated to Networking NGO, Gandhigram Trust, Dindigal and we have constructed a dye extraction tank for them. The existing cyclic pedal type agitator of the extraction unit was modified to impeller type which is simple and easy to pedal. Since the cyclic pedal agitator was operated manually it was very slow and doesn’t agitate uniformly. These problems are addressed with the modified agitator. Apart from uniform agitation the release of dye is rapid. Also, to improve the dye extraction, few microbes such as Pseudomonas spp., Trichoderma spp., Pythium spp. and Rhodospirillum rubrum and enzymes like amylase and cellulase were used in the fermentation process. Two such units has to be constructed for 2 beneficiaries and intense training has to be given.

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